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Weird Whirlpool
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Weird Whirlpool

Something strange is spinning off the coast of San Diego, and some say it comes from out of this world. The phenomenon can best be described as a giant whirlpool caught on videotape off Black's Beach. A man flying in a biplane shot the footage with on a home video camera and it is being described as absolutely extraordinary.

Oceanographers say they've never seen anything like it. And at least one expert says an unidentified underwater object could have caused the weird whirlpool.

People have reported seeing flying saucers, UFOs, and strange lights in the skies, over the water, even in the water. Researchers are now wondering what would happen if a spacecraft did land in the ocean off San Diego, and what it would look like.

On Saturday, February 3, 2001, at about 1100 feet above Black's Beach, Mike Runion was a passenger in an open-air biplane on a sightseeing tour when he saw something he'd never seen before. The pilot circles around for another look and there it is: a huge, spinning whirlpool.

Mike grabbed his video camera and began to shoot. What he ended up with was 37 seconds of footage showing a spinning whirlpool, sucking up dirt and debris, just outside the surf line -- a spiral of foam rising up from the center.

Mike is a kayaker, who spends a lot of time in the ocean, but this video was like nothing he or his kayaking buddies had ever seen. When NEWS 8 first aired the video about a month ago, they took a phone call from the director of the San Diego UFO society, Rob Baldwin. He wanted to take a closer look.

According to Baldwin, UFOs have been reported for years off the coast of San Diego. He says the spinning motion of an underwater flying saucer could create the whirlpool effect seen in the footage. Scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography are extremely skeptical of the UFO theory. Bill Schmidt does extensive research on ocean rip currents.

He says the spinning motion in the video looks like it's a giant eddy, possibly caused by two competing ocean currents. Rip currents run perpendicular to the shoreline, flowing straight out to sea. When they get outside the surf zone they sometimes collide with long-shore currents heading north or south. When the two currents come together a spinning, eddy motion can result.

There is also a deep canyon off the coast of Black's Beach, which can make ocean currents unpredictable. But since the video is so short, Schmidt says it's difficult to say exactly what caused the eddy.

No one is certain how common these whirlpool currents are off the San Diego coastline. But, scientists say they wouldn't be surprised if they occur as seldom as once a year or as often as once a month.

Source: Scripps Institution of Oceanography

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